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Iran Press TV

Russia says Turkey jets join anti-Daesh operation in Syria's al-Bab

Iran Press TV

Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:49PM

Moscow says Russian warplanes and Turkish jets have jointly targeted positions of Daesh terrorists in the Syrian city of al-Bab.

The Wednesday aerial attacks by Russian and Turkish war planes were the "first joint air operation" by the two countries against the Daesh terrorist group in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff told a briefing that nine Russian and eight Turkish planes were part of the operation in the area around the city of al-Bab, located 40 kilometers northeast of Aleppo, which was fully recaptured by the Syrian forces in December.

The Russian military official said the operation had been conducted with the Syrian government's consent.

The Russian Air Force was also providing air support to Syrian government troops trying to fight off a Daesh attack around the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr, Rudskoi said, adding that Russian jets were also backing a Syrian army offensive near the ancient city of Palmyra.

Rudskoi said that "36 targets" had been destroyed in the joint operation.

The announcement came less than a week after the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that Moscow and Ankara had agreed to coordinate aerial attacks "on terrorist targets" in Syria, and signed a memorandum on combat flight safety during missions in Syrian airspace.

Meanwhile, a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, brokered by Moscow and Ankara and endorsed by the UN Security Council in late December, is largely holding across Syria as a new round of peace talks, to be mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, are to be held in the Kazakh capital Astana next week.

The Daesh and JabhatFateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist groups are excluded from the ceasefire and the talks between representatives from the Syrian government and armed opposition groups.

Washington has not been involved in the latest diplomacy on the Syrian conflict as Ankara is ostensibly shifting from its long-time ally and tilting more toward Russia on the war in the Arab country.

Biggest bones of contention between Turkey, US

Ties between Turkey, which is a NATO member, with other member states of the Western military alliance have been strained following their support for Kurdish militias.

The tension between Ankara and its Western allies is significantly linked to the country's July 15 failed coup, to which Turkey says they did not show due reaction.

Washington's refusal to extradite US-based Turkish opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the botched coup, is another bone of contention between the two countries.

In August last year, the Turkish air force and special ground forces kicked off Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria in a declared bid to support the Free Syrian Army militants and rid the border area of Daesh terrorists and fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD), who have been making gains under the aegis of the US and other Western countries. Ankara has already made it clear that it will not tolerate Kurdish territorial gains close to its frontiers.

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